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Friday, April 12, 2013

SPCA Seeking Motherly Types to Help Care for Baby Birds

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Demanding children
  • Demanding children

If you're a mother experiencing empty nest syndrome, here's a great gig for you. Just like every Spring, animal shelters experience an overwhelming influx of baby birds in need of a mother hen to guide them. You could be that mother hen.

This weekend, the Peninsula Humane Society is holding its first orientation for animal lovers interested in nursing newborn birds that have been dropped off by residents who already have enough mouths to feed.

It won't be anything like raising a teenager, but that's a good thing, right?

As a volunteer, you will also be asked to help educate residents about attempting to care for wildlife on their own; in other words, when to leave a bird alone and when to save it from the cruel world.

Here's a few tips the SPCA can offer now:

  • A featherless, downy, or incompletely feathered bird needs human intervention. If the bird appears uninjured, the best chance of survival is a return trip to the nest. It is not true that mother birds will reject babies if they've been handled by humans.

  • Residents who find a nest on the ground with babies or eggs should return it to a nearby tree.

  • If the featherless or downy-feathered baby appears injured or the nest cannot be located, note the exact location where the bird was found, place the bird in a small, covered box lined with tissue; keep it warm, dark and quiet and try to get it to PHS/SPCA as soon as possible (1450 Rollins Rd., Burlingame). Do not offer food or water.

  • A fully-feathered bird hopping on the ground does not require human intervention unless it is on a busy street or in a yard with pets that may injure it. This period of being on the ground is a normal, necessary part of a bird developing survival skills. The parents are around, feeding them, showing them where to look for food, and hiding them under bushes. Keep your dogs, cats and children away from the area for a few days.

  • If you've already picked up the feathered bird, place it back where you found it or under a nearby bush.

  • Fully feathered baby birds need human intervention when they are injured or in the middle of a busy street. Place the bird in a small, covered box or paper bag to keep it warm, dark and quiet, and bring it to PHS/SPCA. Minimum contact reduces stress and increases any animal's chances of survival. Do not offer food or water.

Annually, the SPCA gets some 4,000 to 4,500 live local wild animals from San Francisco through Northern Santa Clara County between March and August. Some are sick or injured, but the majority are very young, orphaned wildlife brought to the center by nice people who find them their yards. This inadvertent "kidnapping" could be orphaning a bird that is being watched by parents. Before rushing to help, watch the bird from 30 to 50 feet away.

The volunteer orientations for those interested in providing care for wildlife are: Saturday, April 13 (9 a.m. to 11a.m.); Thursday, April 25 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.); Saturday, May 11 (9 a.m. to 11 a.m.); and Thursday, May 30 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.). To sign-up, contact Brian Probst at 650/340-7022, ext. 328 or

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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